Here's the Rasor's Edge to rebut all you haters...
The Buchtelite has plenty of enemies. Some say we are way too liberal (probably true). Some say we make way too many errors (we try hard, but every paper screws up occasionally).
A new enemy appeared recently. Through our message boards on www.buchtelite.com, a member of the rifle team let us have it. This is one of her tamest posts: "It would be nice if the Buchtelite could report results from all of the sports teams and not just football and basketball."
This is a problem that every newspaper deals with. For example, two Akron teams won championships this summer: the Aeros (minor league baseball) and Racers (pro softball). Editors at the Akron Beacon Journal had to decide between covering these events and giving space to the red-hot Indians.
Through surveys, the ABJ knew that few Akronites care about the Aeros and Racers. The Tribe's popularity was also gaining steam. So the Beacon downplayed the championships in favor of the Indians.
Luckily, we don't have such a problem. Three Zips teams have popularity: men's basketball, men's soccer and football. Other teams have interest, but nothing compares to the big three. We easily can cover those sports as they deserve, but because of space constrictions, we are limited beyond that.
I believe journalists are obligated to write about their readers' interests. But if readers don't care about something, and we think they should care, then journalists should tell the community that it ought to care. We did that with men's soccer.
As for the rifle team, the sport is incredibly boring compared to the major sports. Rifle ranks up there with billiards and bowling as far as athleticism is concerned. I would prefer to watch a spelling bee instead of a rifle match.
However, if the rifle team is one of the nation's elite, the UA community should know about it.
Last spring, we devoted a lot of space to Akron Rifle. The squad nearly earned an appearance at the NCAA Rifle Championships, an eight-team tournament to determine the national champion, so we wrote about it.
Right now, however, the team is in the regular season. If we write a story about a match against John Jay College, the only people who will care are the players, the coach, the players' parents and the players' friends. Maybe 100 people will read the story. Compare that with the thousands who attend men's soccer, men's basketball and football games.
Even GoZips.com, the university's athletics Web site, barely gives attention to the rifle team. While football players have full profiles, rifle shooters have only their name, hometown, high school and birthdate on display. The site's last feature about a rifle shooter came more than three years ago.
After searching the Beacon Journal's archives, I noticed that the last rifle feature was written in 2002. Before that, it was 1997. Akron's three biggest teams get that much coverage on a weekly basis.
GoZips.com does it right. The Beacon Journal does it right. So do we.
Now if we could only stop being so liberal.